Mar 1, 2012

Tolstoy Short Story

   My friend Gordon sent me an email with an old story written by the famous Russian author Leo Tolstoy and I feel I must share that story with you. Of course I read his famous novel "War And Peace" but I read it my way, I use to skip the boring paragraphs. Back to the story which you should remember the great moral "Greed, is an illness"
The short story "How much land does a man need" by Leo Tolstoy - source

  The ambitious peasant Pakhom, who, after gaining ever greater plots of land, finally heard of a wonderful deal in a far off country. He travelled to the land of the Bashkirs and negotiated with the village elder, who seemed a fool. The elder told Pakhom that he could have all the land he wanted for a thousand rubles a day.
Pakhom did not understand. “What kind of rate is that - a day?” he asked. “How many acres could that be?” “We don’t reckon your way. We sell by the day. However much you can walk around in one day will be yours.” When Pakhon expressed that a man can walk around much land in one day, the elder burst out laughing. “And all of it will be yours!” he replied. But there was one condition: If Pakhom didn’t return to the starting point by sundown, the money would be
Ecstatic, Pakhom spent a sleepless night. Rising at dawn, he went with the villagers to the top of a hill where the elder put down his hat. After placing his thousand rubles on top, Pakhom began walking, digging holes along the way to mark his land. The going was easy and he thought,”I’ll do another three miles and then turn left. The land’s so beautiful here, it would be a pity to miss any.”
Pakhom hurried throughout the morning, going out of his way to add more land. But at noon
when he looked back at the hill where he had began, it was difficult to see the people. Maybe I have gone too far, he worried, and decided he must begin to make shorter sides. As the afternoon wore on, the heat was exhausting. By now his bare feet were cut and bruished, and his legs weakened. He wanted to rest, but it was out of question. Pakhom struggled on, walking faster, then running. He worried that he had been too greedy and his fear made him breathless. On he ran, his shirt soaked and his throat parched. His lungs were working like a blacksmith’s bellows, his heart beat like a hammer. He was terrified. All these strain will be the death of me.
Although Pakhom feared death, he couldn’t stop. They’d call me an idiot, he thought. When he
was close enough to hear the Bashkirs cheering, he summoned his last ounce of strength and kept running. As he finally reached the hill, everything suddenly became dark the sun had set. Pakhom groaned. He wanted to stop, but heard the Bashkirs still cheering him on. He realized that from where he was at the bottom of the hill, the sun had set - but not for those on top. Pakhom took a deep breath and rushed up the hill. Reaching the top, he saw the elder sitting by the hat, laughing his head off. Pakhom’s legs gave way, and he fell forward grasping the cap.

“Oh well done,” exclaimed the elder. “That’s a lot of land you’ve earned yourself!”
Pakhom’s worker ran up and tried to lift his master, but Pakhom was dead. The worker picked up Pakhom’s spade, dug a grave, and buried him six feet from head to heel, exactly the amount of land a man needs.

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